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Verizon’s Palms Will Double As Mobile Hot Spots

Verizon Wireless will be the exclusive carrier of two new Palm smartphones that will double as mobile Wi-Fi hot spots with the installation of a downloadable app.

The two new WebOS-based smartphones, unveiled at CES by Palm, will be the first cellphones to incorporate mobile hot spot capability, the company said. Through the Wi-Fi-equipped phones, up to five Wi-Fi-equipped devices at a time will be able to access the Internet via Verizon’s CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A network.

The devices, due from Verizon on Jan. 25 at undisclosed prices, are the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus. They are upgrades of two current models available only through Sprint.

The Pre Plus upgrades include internal memory doubles to 512MB, embedded flash-memory storage doubled to 16GB, and the elimination of a navigation button to simplify navigation. The Pixi Plus gets built-in Wi-Fi, unlike the original Pixi.

Like the Pre, the Pre Plus features touchscreen and slide-down QWERTY keyboard. The Pixi Plus, like the Pixi, is smaller, lighter and less expensive than its sister model, and both feature touchscreen and fixed QWERTY keyboard.

In other announcements, Palm said a WebOS v1.4 update due in February will add video camera capabilities to its WebOS-based phones and enable on-device video editing. WebOS 1.4 will also enable the devices to run Flash 10 when Adobe makes a plug-in available in the near future. Flash is currently unavailable on Palm’s smartphones.

And in another announcement, the company said 3D games are available for the firs time for Pre phones in the U.S.